College of

MSU medical student working to collect & donate PPE to Michigan hospitals

It was hard to ignore the need and pleas from health care workers who are putting their lives on the risk while I sat in isolation. As a future health care professional, I knew that I could be doing more to help in a more direct way.”

MSU College of Human Medicine student Neej Patel is working with Med Supply Drive to collect and donate unused PPE to local hospitals, ERs, and clinics in Michigan. We spoke with Neej to learn more about Med Supply Drive, his efforts in Michigan, and how others can get involved to donate items or volunteer.

Neej Patel & Family

Can you tell us a bit about Med Supply Drive?

Med Supply Drive is a non-profit, student-run group created by students at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and carried forward all around the nation. In Michigan, our mission is to mobilize students and volunteers across the state to collect and donate medical supplies to local hospitals in need. We are responding to an urgent appeal for medical supplies from health care workers on the frontlines. They emphasize that this is not just a localized issue, but one that is affecting our entire country.

Just as our community needs to protect itself, so do our health care heroes. Across the country, many hospitals are running dangerously low on personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects themselves and their patients from COVID and the infectious agents that are a regular part of life. These include N95 and surgical masks, non-latex gloves, and medical gowns.

This shortage is putting our health care workers at risk and is forcing them to self-quarantine due to exposures from lack of PPE. This threatens to create a shortage of health care professionals in a time when they are needed most. Because of the PPE shortage, every patient in the hospital is at heightened risk and this risk then extends into our local communities.

How did you get involved with Med Supply Drive?

It was hard to ignore the need and pleas from health care workers who are putting their lives on the risk while I sat in isolation. As a future health care professional, I knew that I could be doing more to help in a more direct way. The Co-director of Med Supply Drive whom I’ve known from undergrad posted on social media about the efforts and it felt right to reach out.

I got more and more invested by the hour and decided to start contacting local labs and departments. Soon, several faculty members at MSU College of Human Medicine, labs across the community, and departments at local universities were ready to redirect supplies to hospitals – it was fantastic to see!

Tell us about your efforts in Michigan thus far? What more needs to be done?

As a regional coordinator for West Michigan, I have started to build connections and reach out to many of our community partners. MSU College of Human Medicine staff have been extremely helpful in lending their contacts to start off the effort. Local research institutes and universities in the Grand Rapids area have also been donating their PPE to our big networks such as Spectrum and Trinity Health.

So far, we have redirected thousands of supplies ranging from N95 masks, isolation gowns, head coverings, and Clorox wipes to our hospitals. Just the other day, I was able to coordinate the delivery of masks and gowns from Secchia Center to the local hospital supply chain center in my own car. During all these activities, it’s important that we continue to practice social distancing and sanitize our donations to prevent the spread of any viruses.

Are there other MSU College of Human Medicine students who have joined in this effort?

While students are all in isolation, unfortunately it’s not a vacation and we are still studying hard. Despite still being busy with online classes, peers at the College of Human Medicine have been extremely eager to help. We have started to mobilize in Grand Rapids and are growing in numbers.

In just a few days, a lone effort has turned into 8 College of Human Medicine students  and we plan to keep expanding. Outside of our students we are 15 strong and are continuously growing with support from other medical school and university students across the state.

Some of our students are working within their local communities from home, for example my peer Pallavi Prabhu from the Grand Rapids campus has joined our team as the Regional Coordinator in our southeast communities.

ppe supplies

How can others get involved in Michigan?

It's as easy as looking through your drawers and cabinets for any supplies that might help our health care professionals. Reach out to us using this form if you have any donations that we can coordinate for a safe pick up.

We’re fanning out and contacting our local dentist/orthodontists, specialty clinics, tattoo parlors, cleaning services and many more for possible donations. If you know anyone who is willing to donate supplies, please have them fill out the form.

If you'd like to help us by volunteering your time, you can get started by filling out this form.

Anything else you would like to add?

Our health care system is in need during this pandemic and I hope that these efforts will help to mitigate some of the adverse affects of resource scarcity in our medical settings. HUGE thank you to our health care heroes around Michigan, you all are examples to future professionals and I couldn't be more proud and excited to follow in your footsteps.